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The investigation began when an NYPD Auto Crime detective found an Instagram page that included photographs of car rims and inspection stickers for sale.
By Forum Staff
A Queens grand jury this week indicted 11 individuals from Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan and Staten Island for their roles in an automobile and motorcycle theft ring along with a single defendant who is accused of selling bogus inspection stickers that operated in Queens County and elsewhere between August 2015 and December 2016.
The indictments came after a 16-month joint investigation by the New York City Police Department’s Auto Crime Division and my Organized Crime and Rackets Bureau, according to District Attorney Richard Brown. “The defendants charged in this case are alleged to have worked together and separately dealing in stolen automobiles, motorcycles and car parts. One particular defendant also allegedly used social media to sell bogus 2017 New York State motor vehicle inspection stickers.” DA Brown further noted that auto theft is though to be a benchmark of the effectiveness of his office in combating crime. That success is measured by the dramatic drop in auto thefts from a high of more than 50,000 cars being stolen annually in 1991 to less than 2,000 just last year as a result of unearthing criminal organizations that profit from the illicit trafficking of stolen autos, auto parts and insurance fraud.
The defendants were arraigned on seven indictments variously charging them with grand larceny, criminal possession of stolen property, conspiracy and other charges. The investigation began after detectives discovered an Instagram page that included photographs of car rims and inspection stickers for sale. The NYPD contacted the Instagram account holder, Abad Rios, who had listed his phone number on the page. The communication with Rios was the start of an undercover operation in which he sold forged New York State inspection stickers to an undercover detective on several occasions. The transactions then progressed into Rios and a co-defendant Kuldeep Sethi collaborating to sell stolen automobiles and motorcycles to undercover detectives. The NYPD’s Auto Crime Division and his Organized Crime and Rackets Bureau obtained a court-authorized wiretap, helping to unveil the inner-workings of this alleged theft ring, which stole vehicles from Queens, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Staten Island and New Jersey. The defendants stole approximately 45 cars and 16 motorcycles worth a combined estimated total of $500,000. Unbeknownst to the defendants they sold roughly 14 of the cars and six of the motorcycles to undercover investigators. Police recovered 28 autos and bikes worth about $270,000. Rios allegedly sold an estimated 13 forged New York State inspection stickers to undercover detectives.
Two Queens men, identified as Samar “Sammy” Preet, 26 ad Pierce O’Connor, 22, both of 78th Street have been variously charged in the case with third- and fourth-degree grand larceny, third-, fourth- and fifth-degree criminal possession of stolen property, third-degree unauthorized use of vehicle and fifth-degree conspiracy. Preet was freed on $30,000 bail while O’Connor was released on his own recognizance. All defendants in the case face up to seven years in prison if convicted.